We speak of ulcer disease when the ulcer is located in the place of natural resistance to the aggressiveness of gastric juice, i.e. the stomach and duodenum. In no case do ulcers occur in the oesophagus or behind the duodenum. We are talking here about a chronic disease that occurs in patients for a prolonged period of time. If the difficulty subsides, there is often a recurrence of the problem (the so-called recurrence of the disease). In most cases, the diagnosis of the disease is based on the presence of Helicobacter pylori infection (90% of duodenal ulcers and 60-80% of gastric ulcers). The disease arises at any time, but most often between the ages of 30 and 40. However, there are a few cases where the onset of the disease occurs earlier.
Several factors are involved in the onset of the disease at the same time. These include acidity of the gastric juice, infection with Helicobacter pylori, certain medications, impaired blood supply to the gastric mucosa and, last but not least, stress.
How does one actually know if something is wrong?
The basic symptom of the disease is pain in the epigastrium. This varies according to the location of the ulcer. In the case of gastric ulcers, it occurs soon after eating and is also accompanied by nausea or vomiting. In duodenal ulcers, the pain occurs for a longer time after eating, often two or more hours. The typical symptom of a duodenal ulcer is pain that wakes the patient from sleep. Unlike gastric ulcers, this pain responds well to eating.
Since it is a chronic disease i.e. it plagues the patient for a long time, often for life. It also has many complications that can threaten the patient’s life directly.
One of the most common complications isbleeding from an ulcer. It occurs by the mechanism that the ulcer „nibbles“ a blood vessel in the wall of the stomach or duodenum. Bleeding is easy to recognize. If it comes from the duodenal area or is a minor bleeding from the stomach, there will be a marked change in the color of the stool. We are talking here about the so-called melena. This is a dark, tarry stool that is made up of digested blood. If there is massive bleeding from the stomach, the patient vomits up the lightly digested blood with gastric juices. This resembles the appearance of „coffee grounds“.
Another serious complication is perforation or perforation of the stomach or duodenum. This is a complication with a serious course, where the patient’s life is threatened and must seek immediate professional help. It manifests itself as a sharp or shocking pain in the stomach and then the entire abdomen.
Penetration (penetration of the ulcer into the surrounding structures) and pylorostenosis (narrowing of the transitional part of the stomach into the duodenum) are complications of a chronic nature, which arise gradually and therefore do not have such a dramatic course. However, this does not mean that they are not serious in themselves.
In today’s modern and hectic society, ulcer disease is a very common disease that should not be underestimated. With early detection, quality and successful treatment is possible. However, the opposite can have an unfortunate end.